Hurricane Isaac – Send Us Your Pics

Hurricane Isaac, once pointed directly at us, loomed threatening projections for days.  The local EOC (emergency operations center) was activated and press briefings were held, and many schools in the panhandle were closed for 1 day (some 2).  But Isaac brought nothing except sunshine and a little wind.  As close as Santa Rosa Beach saw a very thin but heavy band of rain for a couple hours yesterday evening, but that’s it.  Yesterday was a sunny fun day off of school and work.  They have snow days in the north, we get hurricane days. 🙂

But, there was some good wind, storm surge and some huge waves in the gulf, and we want to see pictures.

You may remember, last year with TD Lee came through, we got some excellent footage of the new M.B. Miller Pier taking the beating like a champ.

We want to see what you got, so send us your pictures to my email,

BREAKING: Tropical Storm Isaac and Panama City Beach [Updated]

Tropical Storm Isaac is strengthening and moving fast.  Projections have kept fairly consistent, although “spaghetti models” have continued to move its trajectory further west with each update. One of the refreshing things about this storm is that it seems to be moving quickly (17-20 mph), so when it hits, it’ll blow over quickly.

I’m going to use this post to keep us up to date on important information as to where she’s going, what she’s doing and what we need to do about it.

First off, I keep an eye on a couple places to make sure I know what’s going on:

Current Status

UPDATED 8-27-12 0907 cst

As this storm grows older, and moves further west, the threat level regarding wind diminishes for Panama City Beach.  However, a still serious concern is the amount of rain Tropical Storm Isaac will deliver to Northwest Florida.  Officials are estimating 12 to 14 inches of rain in an already saturated area over the next 4 days and are warning of “serious flooding.”

Tropical Storm Isaac has not yet been upgraded to a hurricane as the maximum sustained winds are still just 65 mph, however strengthening is expected to occur in the next 12 hours.  Projections are now saying it will be a category 1 (as opposed to a cat 2) when it makes landfall.

We’ve updated all the imagery on this page to reflect the most current status.

UPDATED 8-26-12 2122 cst

Tropical Storm Isaac projections continue to move it west with the “cone of uncertainty’s” eastern border shifting to Destin (previously Indian Pass).  Currently there is a hurricane warning for those between Morgan City, LA and Destin FL and a hurricane watch from east of Destin to Indian Pass.

Walton County has closed their schools Monday and Tuesday, however Bay County District Schools will be in session as normal with the exception of Deane Bozeman School, which will be closed.  Bozeman functions as a special needs shelter during inclement weather periods.

In a meeting held this evening at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center, it was released that Bay County residents should expect over a foot of rainfall between now and Thursday and that flooding will be a large part of the problems that come from Isaac.  Some are expecting winds in the 60-80 mph range with tropical storm force winds as early as 8 pm Monday evening.

As of this report, Isaac is still a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.  Right now south and central Florida is being pelted with heavy rain and moderate wind (20-40 mph).

UPDATED 8-26-12 1236 cst (pm)

Initial projections had Isaac coming right towards us.  In fact, Highway 79 was directly at the middle of the cone.  As we’ve been watching Tropical Storm Isaac the last 36 hours, the forecast has moved it west.  Right now the eye of the storm is almost directly due north of Havana, Cuba.  Isaac is currently a tropical storm, but it is expected to be upgraded to a Category 1 in the next 12 hours.  The maximum sustained winds currently are 65 mph.

If the storm continues on its projected path, we’ll see the most dangerous side of the storm (the east side) on Tuesday.  The further west it moves, the less dramatic of an impact we’ll see.

Tropical Storm ISAAC Public Advisory Page

Summary of watches and warnings in effect…

A hurricane warning is in effect for…
* East of Morgan City Louisiana to Destin Florida…Including Metropolitan New Orleans…Lake Pontchartrain…And Lake Maurepas

A hurricane watch is in effect for…
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm warning is in effect for…
* the florida peninsula from ocean reef southward on the east coast and from tarpon springs southward on the west coast
* florida keys…Including the dry tortugas and florida bay
* east of destin florida to the suwannee river
* intracoastal city to morgan city louisiana

A tropical storm watch is in effect for…
* east of sabine pass to west of intracoastal city louisiana

Current Satellite Image

Photo credit.

Current Spaghetti Model

Photo credit.

Current Wind Speeds

Photo Credit

What we should do to prepare.

Being a vacation rental property manager in Panama City Beach, I have a variety of concerns with a Tropical System comes our way.

Are we safe?

Right now, we are.  But this could change over the next couple hours/days.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on the storm.  At this point, it’s not likely we’ll be hit catastrophically by a devastating storm.  The most we’ll likely see in Panama City Beach is 50 mph wind (max), rain and storm surge.  However, this should all be taken very seriously and you should take proper precautions relative to your circumstances.

Do I need to make preparations at my 35 individual condos to protect them?

My experience has shown me that all condos that are interior are rarely impacted by high winds.  The buildings cut through the wind and the closer to the building you are, the less the wind on the balcony.  I was recently at a friend’s condo (Mr. Castle!) in Tropic Winds, and his end location gave him a very neat and large balcony that has a whole corner that’s open with guard rails.  He told me he loses tables, chairs and other items with regularity.

So, if you’re on an end unit or have a wrap around balcony, pull your stuff in if the wind kicks up.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry too much.  BUT – don’t take my word for it, use it as advice, but keep an eye on your units!

What concerns do I have about my guests and how can I help?

We’ll be calling all our guests and letting them know what we know, and telling them where they can go to look for more information.  Our rental policy states that if we have a mandatory evacuation, then we’ll refund their rental monies for the nights they didn’t get to stay with us.

It’s common for people to get upset or concerned when tropical systems come through, but generally we are all pretty safe and there is usually nothing to worry about (again, opinion).

What should we do should conditions get worse?

We need to keep an eye on the system, and if it gets worse, we’ll need to take the appropriate action based on the severity of the situation.  The best thing we can do is keep an eye on our local warnings issues to us by NOAA (above in the ‘warnings’ section).  If we’re issued evacuation orders, we need to follow the direction of local authorities.

More about the hurricane rating system

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

  • Tropical Depression: 0 – 38 mph wind speeds
  • Tropical Storm: 38 – 73 mph wind speeds
  • Category 1 Hurricane: 74 – 95 mph wind speeds
  • Category 2 Hurricane: 96 – 110 mph wind speeds
  • Category 3 Hurricane: 111 – 130 mph wind speeds
  • Category 4 Hurricane: 131 – 155 mph wind speeds
  • Category 5 Hurricane: 156 mph and greater wind speeds

Forecast model image credit. 

Bay County Broker of the Year Expands to HWY 30A





                    Grand Opening Celebration Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


Karen Smith, Broker joins Farnums for Beachy Beach 30A    Bay County Broker of the Year for 2011, Karen Smith, who also happened to be named one of Panama City’s “Most Influential Women” has teamed up with some powerful players in Walton County real estate to take her signature “Beachy Beach” brand westward to Hwy 30A.

Known for her relentless enthusiasm and “love on them” leadership style, Broker Smith found the yin to her yang in  Hilary Farnum, whose negotiating style and die hard dedication to her clients has made her the top producer for Watersound and one of the highest selling Realtors in the area.

The two women, though distinctly different are cut from the same cloth when it comes to their commitment to their customers and decided along with their husbands to join forces and align themselves as business partners so they could bring Beachy Beach to Hwy 30A in Seagrove Beach.

The brand new office space for the Beachy Beach 30A brokerage is in Seagrove Beach, just across from Lakeview Centre where Seacrest Dental is located. The unique design of the space was designed by the talented Jeff Margaretten of Margaretten Architectural, materialized by Jeff Brice of Hemingway Construction and made gorgeous by Roy Calvin Eure, owner of Cerulean Interiors on the west end of Panama City Beach.

Always one to believe in the more the merrier, the Smiths and Farnums reached out to new business owner Brittany Lee of SoWal Pilates, who is their next door neighbor at their 30A location. Brittany is the daughter of John Lee of John Lee Mazda in Panama City and has chosen to combine her love of fitness with her family given entrepreneurial spirit.

As the owner of SoWal Pilates, Brittany Lee is ready to share her passion for Pilates with the area with a state of the art studio full of the latest equipment.

“I’m very excited,” Lee said. “It was always my dream to come back to Florida and open my own business.”

Lee will be providing donation only mat classes the morning of the opening at 9 and 11 am.

An official ribbon cutting by the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce is set for 4 p.m., celebrating the opening of SoWal Pilates and the newest location of neighboring Beachy Beach 30A real estate.

When the ribbon falls, the party gets started as guests enjoy live music by Sean Dietrich courtesy of Hemingway Construction, hors d’oeuvres provided by Porath and Associates, P.A. and delectable desserts courtesy of Beach Community Mortgage.

Guests are encouraged to bring their business cards for fabulous drawings and giveaways, which include pet goodies from Bow Wow Meow Pet Company, a gift card from George’s, SoWal Pilates swag, clothing from Lulelemon, Zoom! Teeth Whitening courtesy of Dr. Dennis Lichorwic, and more.

Also in store for attendees, is a chance to help create a one-of-a-kind live art collaboration led by BEMA artists Mary Hong and Beeb Benson whose art will be showcased and available for purchase in both spaces.

As part of the night’s events, both SoWal Pilates and Beachy Beach 30A will be collecting donations for local charities. Beachy Beach will be encouraging attendees to make small donations ($1,$2, $3) to Alaqua Animal Refuge

. SoWal Pilates is partnering with Sinfonia Gulf Coast in support of their new collaboration with Sacred Heart’s Arts in Medicine initiative where Sinfonia musicians perform throughout the hospital’s Walton County campus during the next year.

Attendees will be creating a one-of-a-kind piece of art that will be auctioned off at the night’s end to benefit Sinfonia.

The new Beachy Beach 30A office and their new neighbor SoWal Pilates, which is only 2.5 miles from Seaside, is located at 5410 East County Highway 30A, Unit 102 in Santa Rosa Beach. For more information, the office can be reached at 850-231-3060.

With the grand opening just days away, Karen Smith is ready for the big celebration and elated about the expansion.

“There are lot of people right now shrinking their businesses, but we are growing. Sure, it’s a little adventurous, but if Barbara Corcoran says “expand before your ready” then Hilary and I are going to take her advice!”


Beachy Beach 30A Grand Opening Details
Find the event on Facebook



2 Free IMAX Tickets and 4 Free Standard Movie Tickets [GIVEAWAY]

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises—and better yet, seen it in IMAX—this is your chance.  Courtesy of The Grand Theatre in Pier Park, we’re giving away 2 free passes to experience a movie in the wonderful and exhilarating IMAX.

Last summer The Grand Theatre in Pier Park dubuted their new IMAX theater with the final installment of Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows.  Since, they’ve played a number of hits in IMAX and IMAX 3D.  The current hit is The Dark Knight Rises, but on the schedule for this year include Skyfall, Resident Evil, Indiana Jones, and Frankenweenie.

What we’re giving away

This giveaway if for movie tickets to the Grand Theatre in Pier Park, is 6 total passes and includes:

  • 2 IMAX Courtesy Passes
  • 4 Standard Courtesy Passes (value of general admission)
There is one slight caveat – all passes expire at the end of December of 2012. 
How to enter

In the past, we’ve offered multiple ways to enter, but it’s so much more fun just to leave it right here on this post.  So, COMMENT TO WIN!.

In order to be considered an entrant, all you have to do is post a comment on this post (below) and we’ll randomly pick one super-lucky person to enjoy the passes.

The winner will need to come pick up the passes at our office.

Rules and other details.
  • Each entrant can enter once and only once (we can verify this by ip AND cookies) and must use a valid first name and email address if they enter in comments below.
  • Contest begins when this post is published and ends on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 5 p.m. CST.
  • We will be doing the drawing regardless of how many people enter.
  • A winner will be chosen at random.  There will be 1 winner total.
  • By entering you are opting in to receive future newsletters and emails from PCBDaily and you are opening yourself up to the greatest resource for news and information Panama City Beach has to offer.
  • If you are selected and you do not respond to our email notifying you of winning 48 hours of the contest ending, then we reserve the right to either keep the prize for another giveaway in the future or award the prize to another entrant.
  • This giveaway is open to anyone in the continental United States.
  • We will not ship or mail the tickets, they must be picked up at our office listed below.
  • Our office address is 12118 Panama City Beach Parkway, Suite 10, Panama City Beach, FL  32407
  • Read full rules here.

Why this Beach Girl loves the Ocean

Everyone thinks their beaches are the best right?  Being a native of Northwest Florida’s beaches, perhaps I am a little partial, but I really do think our “Emerald Coast” is the most beautiful, magical coastline in Florida.  In fact, I grew up thinking it was magical, for it seemed every aliment I ever had, my mother’s cure was the saltwater, “get in the water Britt, it’s good for you.”  There were times I felt her zeal for the ocean was like the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who thought Windex was the cure for everything.

It was no surprise when I started studying holistic medicine, that salt water really  was a cure all! Gargling it tempered a sore throat, soaking in it relieved muscle inflammation, and rinsing and scrubbing, especially with a little sand mixed in, exfoliated dead skin cells and cleared up minor blemishes.  Perhaps the water lapping at my toes was a wonder drug!

But more than its’ medicinal properties, the warmth of our Gulf Stream and the beauty of our Emerald Coast brings a kind of magic that can not be bottled.  For those of us that have had an argument with a loved one or felt a loss that brought us to our knees, the beach was a place of refuge.  As a teenager, I was lost, I don’t know if I was anymore lost than the rest of us, but I was lost.  I found peace when I walked on our beaches. It was a place of quiet and a place of communion.

Many of us that have grown up in this area or spent any kind of time here feel a special connection to our beaches, and as someone who moved away and came back, I realize how much I took our beaches for granted.

I hope that our residents and all of our visitors take the time to take a walk on the beach and experience her warmth first hand.  For any troubles that you might have, if even for a moment, the sea will wash them out.

Let the Sea Wash It Out 

By Britt Matthews

Every cut or bruise
No matter what the source
Be it klutz or force
Mother said, Let the sea wash it out

The salt heals wounds
Even the ones we don’t choose
And so into the waves I went
Her wisdom, I was sure, heaven sent

Let the sea wash it out
No matter what your bout
Let the sea wash it out
The salt will work it out
Let the sea wash it out

And so the sea became
Sound for her deaf and life for her lame
No wildness her medicine couldn’t tame
Voodoo magic, mother wouldn’t have it
Old wives tale, any myths she would dispel
This was the gospel
Of a women thoughtful.

Let the sea wash it out
No matter what your bout
Let the sea wash it out
The salt will surely work it out
Let the sea wash it out

I haven’t been to those waters
In a long, long time
But in my heart, I tend to rewind
Memory laps onto the shore
And I hear my mother like I did before
And my head seemed to say
Maybe it wasn’t the waves…
but her faith And grace that kept us a float.

New Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Construction Begins

We’ve been quiet around these parts and figured we owed you an update on the improvements that are happening at Aaron Bessant Park.  I had a quick chat with Mario Gisbert, the newly appointed City Manager, yesterday and he presented me with all the enhancements coming up.  And let me tell you, it looks fantastic.

The ground breaking ceremony was a few weeks back and they’ve already made some good progress, despite all the rain.  The projected “contractual” completion date is on December 13th with final completion to be 1 month after that.

Amphitheater acoustics design

The improvements of the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater is something that has been quite a hot topic. Workshops and public meetings have been a instrumental in hearing the public’s opinion and residents have come out in droves in support and opposition to the improvements.  Some of those against the new amphitheater have had concerns with crowding and sound and those for it think it will be a huge draw for the area for performers and tourists to spectate.

Read all our articles on the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater here.

One of the clear concerns of the public was acoustical insulation in order to keep the sound where it is wanted and away from where it is not. The entire design is centered around this concern.

Every surface on the interior of the structure will be lined with acoustical insulation material that is protected by a wavy, perforated metal material that will help with sound absorption and a protector to the insulation material.  Furthermore, the speakers will be oriented in a way for maximum sound isolation, so that they won’t project outside the event boundaries.  But this isn’t to say you won’t see some sound fragments lingering in areas outside the event, but the sound levels will be within the acceptable and approved ordinance levels.

Design and layout of the amphitheater

The architectural design has evolved quite a bit since our last discussion.  Originally it looked like a literal transplant of the Pier Park style and feel, towers and all.  But with public opinion weighted in and acoustical analysis considered, the design has taken on more individualistic characteristics.  However, it still feels consistent with the area and beachy design direction.

Some of the things I find cool is the thoughtfulness of the layout with respect to the performers.  The object of the new amphitheater is two fold: 1) a better user experience for the spectator, 2) a solid infrastructure for the performer to come in and have minimal setup.

For the performer, all they need to do is pull their tractor trailer up to the built-in loading dock (behind the screen to the east) and unload.  They can hand their lights and speakers from the already installed support system, hook right into the power and they’re good to go.  There are secured and lockable areas on either side of the stage to store equipment overnight (think weekend festivals) and the entire back side of the stage opens up with huge airplane hangar doors to add an additional loading area or to air the facility out.

The stage is 60’x40′ with an 8′ thrust out front increasing the stage area considerably.  The overhang of the roof structure is about 12 feet.

New soccer fields, parking

Concurrent with the development of the new amphitheater is the development of 3 new soccer fields in the current sand field behind the park.  In addition to soccer fields, this area will double as parking for larger events.  The field will be leveled with a layer of clay added to the top, then compacted soil and traffic resistant grass, just like Frank Brown Park’s festival area is now.

Pictures and building design plans

In this shot you can see what the new Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater will look like from the front.  On either side of the stage, the white areas will serve as screens for performers to be projected for the audience. Just above those panels will be supports to hang jumbotrons or some other video screen if the provided screens aren’t what they’re looking for.

To the right, in the structure behind that screen panel, will be the dressing room area.  This will provide an area for the performers to prepare and rest.  There are actually two separate dressing rooms, each with their own full bathroom and a green room. In addition, on that side of the amphitheater there is an administrative office for support staff and secured storage.

To the left, in the structure behind that screen panel, is the loading and storage area.  There is an opening that is large enough and at the right height for a semi truck trailer to pull right up and off load equipment.  In addition, there is a large amount of storage area.

If you’re standing in front of the stage, looking towards the structure, the wall on the back side of the stage are actually airplane hangar doors that completely open.  On this back side of the structure, the height is perfect for backing up a panel or pickup truck for loading and unloading.



June Tourism up 19.9%

There’s been a lot of talk about bed tax lately, primarily because it is a good barometer of where the tourism market is.  May’s numbers were up just under 25%, and if you remember, at the beginning of the season, I predicted (conservatively) that we would see an average of around $2 million per month for the May to August reporting period.  We’ll discuss where we are with that in a few.

June 2012’s bed tax collection was $2,737,780.66, or an astounding 19.9% increase over June 2011.

A close look at the numbers.
  • June 2012 – $2,737,780.66 – single point: $373,055.95 – 19.88% up over previous year
  • June 2011 – $2,283,706.72 – single point: $407,766.53 – 21.2% up over previous year
  • June 2010 – $1,884,269.21 – single point: $389,286.91 – -3.2% down from previous year
  • June 2009 – $1,946,434.54 – single point: $376,853.84 – -4.5% down from previous year
  • June 2008 – $1,223,299.60 –  single point: $456,741.34 – 9.3% up over previous year
  • June 2007 – $1,119,167.86 – single point: $547,556.13

When considering the percentage of the bed tax, and doing a little reverse engineering, industry wide in Bay County, $54,755,613.20 was generated in room-night revenue.  That’s a lot of money spread around for one month.

The numbers from the previous months this year
  • May 2012 – $1,408,512 – up 24.95% over previous year
  • April 2012 – $1,270,835.84 – up 4.45% over previous year
  • March 2012 – $1,769,821.69 – up 19.38% over previous year
Predictions for July

While June was a little bit of a slow start for us at Panama City Beach Luxury Properties at 83% occupancy average across all our properties, July we had an average occupancy of 97% across the board.  Of course, looking at our average revenue per unit for July wouldn’t be fair, compared to July 2011 since we have a much higher concentration of higher-revenue properties this summer over last, but the number is fun anyways: $4290.17 per unit, which is 25% up over last year ($3424.91 average per unit).

Looking at the average percentage increases for the previous months (17.17%), and throwing in a little personal intuition, I think July will see a 23% increase in 2012 over 2011.

As far as our predicted average increase per month across the entire reporting season of May to August, right now we’re averaging $2,073,146.33, or .7% better than what I had predicted.  Not too shabby, if I don’t say so myself.  🙂

It Only Looks Like A Million Dollars

It Only Looks Like A Million Dollars!

Hot Deal #1 Nicely Appointed Queensberry at Bay Point home priced at $549,000

Professionally decorated, open design with 5BD/3BA with 3100+ sq ft, custom built-ins
Gourmet kitchen w/sub zero fridge, wet bar, formal living & dining area, oversized master suite
Wonderful outdoor entertainment space with in-ground pool with enclosure, lush landscaped yard
(Courtesy of Keller Williams Success Realty)

Hot Deal #2 Fabulous Finisterre Custom Built Home w/carriage house listed at $799,000

Main home offers 3BD/3-1/2BA, grand foyer, welcoming family room & kitchen w/breakfast bar
Carriage house has addtl 2BD/1BA, full kitchen, over 4000+ sq ft total, great outdoor spaces
Gated driveway, private in-ground pool, large covered patio, community tennis courts
(Courtesy of Beachy Beach)

Hot Deal #3 Awesome Opportunity for West End beach home with private pool & gulf views

3BD/3BA + office & 3rd floor bonus room, tile throughout first floor, granite counters, nice cabinetry
Offers 1st floor bedroom that opens to pool, hardwood stairs, oversized Master suite w/balcony
1-1/2 blocks to beach access, covered carport w/outdoor storage, large fenced lot – $275,000!!!
(Courtesy of Beachy Beach)